Knowing what you need to get the job you want is half the battle. You can then address these gaps but also explain in your application how you can demonstrate these skills. Here, we outline the requirements and skills you might need to get a graduate job.

Are you prepared for the economic upturn?

Obtaining that all important role is not just about your qualifications and how good your degree is, it is about other skills and personal characteristics that you will have developed throughout your studies, work experience, voluntary work, or hobbies and interests. Firms are always on the lookout for talented individuals, and as we slowly move towards economic recovery and growth, we will see graduate intakes increasing.

What can you do to stand out from the crowd?

If you are one of those graduates that make the mistake of equating your ‘skills’ with your degree or qualifications, you should remember that while what you have studied and what you can do are connected, they are not the same thing.

Rather than a narrow interpretation of your skills that is based on your discipline, think in terms of ‘transferable skills’ or ‘employability skills’.

How can the knowledge and competencies you have acquired be applied to a workplace environment?

You should also think about other ways in which you can differentiate yourself. As stated previously, graduate schemes are notoriously competitive and becoming affiliated with a professional body through membership or a continuing professional development (CPD) scheme is another example of how you could show your dedication and commitment and interest in the industry in which you are immersing yourself.

Gaining a professional qualification that relates to the area of work in which you are interested is also a sign of your dedication and would most certainly give you a competitive advantage over your fellow applicants.

What skills do employers seek in their graduate recruits?

Although it varies considerably from industry to industry, and job to job, there are some capabilities commonly valued by most graduate employers. The core skills which employers look for include:

  • Literacy and numeracy
  • Time management and organisation
  • Oral and written communication
  • Teamwork
  • Creative problem-solving
  • Initiative and enterprise
  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • Ability to apply discipline, knowledge and concepts
  • Information gathering, evaluation and synthesis
  • Emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills
  • Adaptability.

The application procedures of many major graduate employers have become explicitly focused on motivation, organisational fit and competency. It is now common to have a personality profile or aptitude test as a part of the application process and you are likely to be asked to provide detailed examples of competencies such as ‘teamwork’ or ‘problem solving’ on an application form or during an interview.

Moreover, you may also wish to consider the following questions in relation to skills:

  • Drive – are you results orientated and proactive?
  • Analytical thinking – do you possess the ability to break down a problem into its component parts, identifying implications and causal relationships?
  • Conceptual thinking – can you recognise patterns and the key underlying issues, making the complex simple and finding creative solutions?
  • Business sense – do you have a desire to make or save money?
  • Influence – can you be persuasive? Can you convince others of a view or position?
  • Leadership – do you enjoy teamwork and cooperation while leading a group of people, articulating a purpose for the group and motivating people to fulfil that purpose?
  • Teamwork – are you good at working with others – seeing issues from another person’s point of view? Are you willing and able to work cooperatively and collaboratively with others?

Employers like to see that applicants have some commercial awareness – an insight into how firms operate, what is happening in the business world and the impact this could have on their organisation. A second language can also be useful particularly for more global organisations.

Other important qualities are dedication, commitment and a genuine passion for the industry.

Providing practical examples of your skills

Take time to think about the skills listed above and try writing down some examples of how you have put these skills into practice during your studies, through work experience or socially and use this as a basis for the examples you will no doubt be asked to provide during the application process.

Most of all, you will need perseverance – be prepared for the fact that you might have to make several applications before being accepted onto a graduate scheme and don’t give up.

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